Vanaja DVD Launch

by baiscope wallah on June 1st, 2008

Rajnesh Domalpalli, Borders NYC, May 30 \'08

Video excerpts, war stories about the making of, concerns about distribution, ringing cell phones and crying babies is how the DVD launch of festival fav Vanaja went down at Borders (NYC) on Friday. As Rajnesh Domalpalli (director) smiled his way through the proceedings, someone in the audience remarked “it looks like you are watching the movie for the first time”.

The film is in its second year on the festival circuit (112 festivals at last count), but distributors in India have predictably shied away. The infamous censor board’s demand for nine cuts, and the director’s reluctance to comply have further complicated the distribution prospects.

Rajnesh shared some interesting tidbits with a diverse audience at the dvd release:

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Musica Hindu

by baiscope wallah on May 26th, 2008

East Village Icons

by baiscope wallah on May 25th, 2008

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Blue Umbrella

by baiscope wallah on May 20th, 2008

There are many memorable take aways from Vishal Bharadwaj’s National Award winning film. The lush Himachal landscape is a pleasant break from the urban settings of the latest Indie films. Pankaj Kapoor gets better with age, and shows tremendous range in playing the village shopkeeper “Nandkishore Khatri”. The character is so far removed from the unbending Hindu priest of “Dharm” (also released in 2007), but Kapoor is equally at ease.

blue umbrella

However, the film stumbles repeatedly and is unsatisfactory on the whole. The script is based on a children’s book by Ruskin Bond:

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Ramchand Pakistani

by baiscope wallah on May 16th, 2008

Nandita Das is the most beautiful actor in Indian cinema. Well, may be she’s got some competition now. She gives yet another heart warming performance in this Pakistani film based on true events, highlighting the plight of innocent people caught on the wrong side of the contentious border between India and Pakistan.

An ironical twist is that the family caught in this web is a Hindu dalit family living on the Pakistani side of the fence:

The singular theme of the film is how a child from Pakistan aged eight years learns to cope with the trauma of forced separation from his mother (Nandita Das) while being held prisoner, along with his father in the jail of a country i.e. India, which is hostile to his own, while on the other side of the border, the wife-mother, devastated by their sudden disappearance builds a new chapter of her life, by her solitary struggle for sheer survival.

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Fermat’s Room

by baiscope wallah on May 15th, 2008

The film, directed by first time Spanish director-duo Piedrahita and Sopeña, was showcased in the Discovery section at the Tribeca Film Festival 2008.

The walls are closing in-literally-on four brainiac mathematicians with shadowy pasts in this übertense debut… Each has been invited by the mysterious Fermat to a sort of salon for riddle freaks, where they will try to solve an assuredly grand enigma… Solve it in one minute or the walls, rigged with mega hydraulic presses will begin to press in. With their lives on the line, these four brains must solve their most profound equation yet: Why is someone trying to kill them?

This is an intense movie that never lets up on the pace, with mini-climaxes and revelations at every turn, that you almost come to expect after a while. At the post-movie interview, the directors (who also wrote the movie) revealed that the movie was their tribute to the mega-hits Lost and 24. The seed of the idea: let’s put 4 people in a room, and have them confront a life threatening situation. The filmmakers chose mathematicians, as they are “scientific poets”.

This approach reflects in the fact that form and structure are the elements that make the movie click, and not some underlying premise. The filmmakers did not really have anything to say, rather a strong desire to implement Hollywood clichés in a very witty and entertaining manner, something their favorite TV series have done so well: they are film “constructionists“. If they weren’t filmmakers, they would be designing roller coasters.